Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Un tempo bruto ma non brutissimo...

Which means, weather not too ghastly... We set off in light rain from Castellammare di Stabia, about 9 a.m., beneath a heavy grey sky. It soon turned heavier, lightning flashed down beside the boat into the sea (very beautiful, golden fingers of brightness plunging into the water), followed by rumbling or claps of thunder -- and then a veritable sluicing of water from the heavens... Thanks goodness it wasn't too cold (I had memories of the Outer Hebrides in rainstorms!). I steered (getting soaked) until David lovingly fixed the auto-pilot and with this excellent self-steering device (better than me!) I was able to go below. Stripped off top dripping layer of clothing and wrapped capacious (dry!) towel round me like sarong. Happily, I had started a dose of Stugeron yesterday against seasickness, so all was well.
In fact, the sea was not too bumpy, though in the afternoon we were 'nose to wind'. The entire crossing took about 8 hours, partly becasue we were going into the wind much of the time. We motored all the way, but David put up the mains'l to steady the boat.

Praise for Stroemhella
This boat is so different from Mitigator, the yacht (32-foot Contessa) which David and I sailed in from 1998 to 2010. Stroemhella is a Dick Koopmans aluminum yacht (according to the ship's papers is 11and a half metres in length). Herewith a pic of her in the marina at Baia, Italy (with Vesuvius in the background). As you see, we chose a lovely blue (azzurro in Italian) when we had her painted in Hinderloopen (her Friesland home). She has tan-coloured sails. Inside is polished teak. See previous pix in my blog.
When we were buying her, our good friend Anje Valk, through whose kind offices we heard about Stroemhella, described the boat as one that 'cared for her passengers'. An excellent way of putting it -- I have a sense of welcome when I come aboard, and feel as if this boat will offer me secure shelter. Though of course, I've not been out in a real storm in her. This mini-thunderstorm we experienced in the Bay of Sorrento was just a baby.
Cooking on Stroemhella is also a joy. The galley is extremely well-designed (as is the entire interior) and you can wedge yourself into a corner when cooking To my great delight, the boat does not carry buta-gaz but burns paraffin, which you light by pouring a little Meths into a saucer beneath the burner. Took me a whike to learn this method, but it is both clean and safe.
We have a well-stocked store of pasta, dried fruits and canned tomatoes and chocolate-coated figs!

Now the wind is getting up again (as forecast) so shortly we shall go ashore and explore Salerno, once the medieval centre of Hippocratic medicine. Boasts a very fine cathedral and some cloister ruins...
The sun is still with us, but the boat is becoming pretty bouncy again. Force 4 or 5 on the Beaufort Scale??
Warm thoughts from the Captian's wife!

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